HASH(0xb5d664)

Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon policy with provincial transfer payments

Wall critical of carbon policy link to funding

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says any attempt by Ottawa to link transfer money with a province’s carbon tax policy would be a serious attack on federal-provincial relations.

Wall says memos obtained by the online publication Blacklock’s Reporter show the federal government intends to tie a province’s stance on carbon tax to equalization renegotiations.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Wall says that would violate the principles of fiscal federalism and he calls the threat unacceptable.

“I’m also asking him … to release the unredacted version of these internal memos so all the provinces know what we’re dealing with here,” Wall said Monday at the legislature.

“I think this is very serious. If the federal government is now saying, ‘Look, if you don’t support us here, you won’t get any of this money,’ to which all provinces are entitled to on a formula, well that’s less like how to run a federation and more like how you run a crime family.”

Equalization is a federal program that transfers money to poorer provinces so they can offer government services at similar levels across the country.

Wall argues Saskatchewan’s resource-based economy has contributed more than $5 billion to equalization over the last decade, while receiving nothing in payments.

Saskatchewan officials are contacting the federal government to find out what’s being considered, he said.

“First of all, the fact that it would be mused about even is a concern to me, that there’s someone in the Department of Finance â€” and I have to think it wouldn’t be without license from someone very senior â€” who’s thinking about, well, should equalization payments be tied to some province’s support of a specific federal Liberal policy,” said Wall.

“That kind of discussion shouldn’t even be happening, never mind in the senior levels at the Department of Finance.”

He said he’s also concerned about other transfer payments including for health, education and infrastructure funding.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office tried to ease Wall’s concerns in a statement on Monday.

“The issue of pricing carbon pollution is unrelated to the federal government’s continual engagement with the provinces on the topic of equalization. Linking the two is not a conversation we are having with the provinces,” she said in the email.

Wall said he’s pleased to hear McKenna’s assurances, but her comments don’t address other types of federal payments, such as infrastructure funding.

Trudeau has said all provinces must set up a cap-and-trade system or impose a price on carbon of at least $10 per tonne starting next year, which  would increase to $50 by 2022, or Ottawa will do it for them.

Eleven provinces and territories agreed to the carbon price plan in December when they signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba did not.

McKenna told The Canadian Press last week that negotiations with the two provinces have continued.

Wall said Saskatchewan will continue to oppose any attempt by the federal government to impose a carbon tax on Saskatchewan.

“Meet us in court,” said Wall.

“My point to the federal government is, if they think they have the constitutional authority to impose a carbon tax on one or a couple of provinces, then go ahead, bring it forward and we will take this to court. We’re reasonably optimistic about our chances and if they are too, that should be their final vindication.”

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP searching for missing Langford resident

Ashley Garland, 17, was last seen on Wednesday, Feb. 14

‘A lot of work to do’ on View Royal financial plan, says mayor

David Screech hopes tax increase will hover around two per cent this year

Westshore Wolves take on Victoria Cougars in playoff action

First round of VIJHL playoffs gets underway Wednesday

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Disqualified Saanich soccer team disputes ruling

Saanich Fusion U15 girls alleged to have ineligible players

Oak Bay skaters bound for BC Games in Kamloops

Saanich resident aims for second gold

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada rounds out Day 11 earning gold in 2 more events

Comox Valley’s Cassie Sharpe and fan-favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all earned golds

Trudeau announces two-way $1 billion investment deal with India

Some of India’s biggest companies to invest more than $250 million in Canada in the coming years

’60s Scoop group educates survivors, pushes rejection of federal settlement

Federal government’s compensation proposal includes $50 million for an Indigenous Healing Foundation

As ‘Black Panther’ shows, inclusion pays at the box office

At the box office, inclusion is paying — and often, it’s paying off big time

Washington senator wants B.C. to follow suit and phase out net-pen fish farms

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea, senator says

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Environmentalists call on Saanich to protect public waterfront

Local environmentalists are calling on Saanich to develop a strategy to stop… Continue reading

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

Most Read